Lifestyle

Jenna Tyson reveals costume secrets from Flo Milli’s ‘Roaring 20s’ video

Flo Milli swung into 2021 in a gleaming sweep of diamonds, crystals and sequins.

After having a breakout year in 2020, the rapper took to her social media pages on January 14 to tease the single art and an audio snippet of her Kenny Beats-produced track “Roaring 20s” — which features a sample and interpolation of the song “If I Were a Rich Man” from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

For the track’s single art, which was shot by Spike Jordan, Flo Milli rocked a custom three-piece suit designed by 5001 Flavors that hinted at the coming luxury of the track’s video.

By the first week of February, the glamorous visuals for the track had been released, with the video featuring a concept aligned perfectly with the song’s title.

The video, which was directed by Child, pulled inspiration from 1920s style and one specific entertainment icon — the incomparable Josephine Baker. Flo Milli even nicknamed herself “Flosephine Baker” in a behind-the-scenes clip from the video shoot she posted on her Instagram.

Featuring bouncing choreography from Sean Bankhead and endless sass from the Alabama-born rapper, the visual roars to life in its first shots. But it is the video’s costumes that are the true showstoppers, with stylist Jenna Tyson and her talented team dreaming up and executing several unforgettable looks for the visual.

A mentee of the legendary stylist Misa Hylton, Tyson has been working as a costume designer and fashion stylist for nine years. So she was well-equipped to take on all the challenges of prepping the “Roaring 20s” video’s styling concepts in just one week ahead of it being filmed in Atlanta, Georgia. 

And to give us the full rundown on the video’s gorgeous costumes, Tyson chatted with the Post about the details behind styling the “Roaring 20s” video and how she brought its breathtaking fashion story to life.

How did you get your start in the industry as a stylist?

I’m originally from California and I moved to New York to chase my fashion dream. One of my favorite costume designers of all time is Patricia Field. She’s always been an inspiration to me. I remember reading an interview of hers where she was saying that the major inspiration of her career has been New York City as its backdrop. So I was in California reading that and I was like, “Oh, okay, I gotta go to New York. Say less.” So I did just that in under a year. I went to New York, worked in retail and stuff like that. And then my favorite stylist at the time was Mariel Haenn. She was doing a lot of cool stuff for Rihanna. That was during the Rated R time. I was obsessed with her. I was researching her thinking, “Okay, I wanna work with her because I love what she’s doing and what she’s creating.” And then I had read an article of hers that was saying that she had gotten a lot of inspiration and a big break from the legendary fashion stylist Misa Hylton.

So that research is what led you to connect with Misa Hylton?

I was like, “Okay, where is Misa?” I’m in New York, I know she’s in New York. Where is she? She needs to mentor me, she needs to put me onto the game. That’s how I wanna get in too. This was like 2012. But I could not find her. She had Twitter, she had Instagram, and it’s like you couldn’t find a contact. I couldn’t find a professional entry point to her, and it was very frustrating for me. That same summer of 2012, she had sent a tweet out saying that she was starting the Misa Hylton Fashion Academy. So she was having interviews at her office on Broadway, and I went down and was one of the first people to interview for her fashion academy. I got accepted and that was my entry point. That’s one of those moments where it’s just like, okay, this is meant to be for those pieces to come together.

Now how did you begin your styling work with Flo Milli?

Flo’s manager is Ebonie Ward, and a stylist I used to work for, Bobby Wesley, is a stylist for Future, Young Thug, Gunna, Roddy Ricch. I worked with Bobby for years, and Ebonie manages, in addition to Flo, Gunna and Future, of course. We all had working relationships and she got Flo as an artist. She pulled us all in to what would be the organic placement of that job. She initially actually wanted to hire another stylist that I had worked for previously. His name was Eric Archibald. He’s a costume designer, so he was in Los Angeles costume designing. So I had helped him on an initial project. I was helping him put a team together to work with [Flo Milli], and then her and I, you know, we clicked. I really liked her energy. So then Ebonie was like, “Why don’t you style her?” And I was like, “Alright, cool. I’ll style her for a couple of things.” It’s so important in fashion that you have a cool connection and a proper kinetic energy [with who you’re styling], so that the person could be comfortable. Because if you’re not comfortable, you could be wearing anything and it’s going to translate. You have to like who’s dressing you as much as you like what they’re dressing you in.

So that connection with Flo Milli made you confident you too would be a great pairing.

We got along cool. She’s a very high vibrational energy girl. I have the same kind of energies that she does and we hit it off. That’s it. That’s how it got in motion. But I had met her prior too when I had worked with her on the Paper magazine shoot with Misa.

That was the denim shoot, correct?

Yeah, that was the denim, all the custom pieces that we did.

Flo Milli Roaring 20s
Brandon Almengo

When it comes to ideating concepts for something like a music video or photo shoot for Flo Milli, what is the process your team goes through in the early stages of a project?

The creative comes from a lot of different places. The creative might come from the director, the creative might come from her management Ebonie, the creative might come from the editors, the fashion editors, it might come from anywhere. But it’s not where you take it from, it’s where you take it to, right? Once it comes into a concept, then I go over the ideation with my team. Then we figure out, “Okay, this is what they want, but how do we make it something that we know is fly? Something that resonates with everybody.” I’m a millennial but my team is Gen-Z. So it’s like we talk and say, “I wanted to have a cool factor that transcends. I want [Flo Milli] to be able to speak to everybody. I want her to feel super cool and relevant but I also want there to be real fashion elements in it.” We just take that with everything and then just figure out how do we make it different, how do we make it truly fashionable and how do we make her look the best she possibly could.

Where did the inspiration for the “Roaring 20s” video come from and why did you all choose to tell the song’s story through this specific creative vision?

This was Ebonie and Flo. The time that we’re in of this global pandemic, to them it was very indicative of the 1920s. When the Roaring Twenties started, the world had just gotten over the Spanish Flu pandemic and everybody was so sick of being stuck in the house. Everybody got dressed up and was drinking up and it was just a party. So that’s what everybody is anticipating outside when it truly opens up again. They were thinking of that plus Flo got put on in [2020]. Last year was really when she blew up and it was in the middle of the pandemic.  

What came after they locked in the overall video concept?

[The video concept] was all of [Ebonie and Flo Milli’s] whole creativity and creative direction. She chose the director, a Black female director named Child. Then I came on and took over doing fashion styling and costume designs for the whole video. I have two assistants, they’re both Black females. I have a friend of mine, Mary Gigler, who is a dope fashion stylist. She does a lot of editorial things and costume design as well. I brought her in to help me to create the looks for Flo, because again, we did [custom pieces] for everybody. It was all custom for Flo, all custom for her dancers, and then we dressed everyone else in the video. This includes Sean Bankhead, who intros the video, and all of the background actors. It was a lot of people to dress for the team and the time that we had.

What was it like to work with a team comprised predominately of Black creatives to make the video’s concept reality?

Ebonie called in all of her friends. It was really a moment of Black excellence I was styling, she had a Black director, she had a Black [hair stylist], she had a Black [make up team]. Another good friend of Ebonie’s, an incredible director and photographer, Spike Jordan, took that initial photo that teased the video that you saw, which was a fantastic image. She has so many creative, talented people there, just because of relationships and how we had all been there. For a young Black professional and a female like Ebonie to have created this space for her artist, another young Black female. To be surrounded by Black creative excellence. What a time.

You even had Sean Bankhead as the choreographer to add to the Black excellence.

It was very powerful. To have everybody have been somebody that came up in the game, that came up in the entertainment industry as an intern or an assistant and now dominating their fields. And then to look around and the majority of the people there were Black. Like what an excellent time. At a time like this, where so many people aren’t even employed, for us to be able to be working in a space like that was very powerful. And I think that just translated through the whole video, with the imagery, with the looks, with the performances.

Flo Milli Roaring 20s Video
Brandon Almengo

I remember looking at all the credits that people were posting on social media in the days after the video went live. I was clicking through to see who made the video happen and I was so inspired seeing that it was a predominately Black team.

The team was Blackity, Black, Black. And for us all to be pouring into a 21-year-old Black woman on the come up, that’s iconic. To give her the courage and the support, and the confidence and really everybody come in and doing their job. There was no skimping. There was no pinching. She really had each and everything that she needed to have the star power that she embodied, and then that she poured all over her performance shots. She killed the video. She came in like the super star that she is, and it feels so good to be her seniors and to be looking like, “That’s right, you ate that up.” It makes us so happy because we’re working tirelessly behind the scenes. But to pour that into somebody that’s so deserving and that looks like us. That can tell these next generations that you absolutely can do it. You put the work in, you can have whatever, you can be whatever. It’s so powerful and empowering. You don’t have to be anything that they tell you you have to be. You don’t have to be a character, you don’t have to be naked, you don’t have to be s—. You could be you.

How important was it for you all to be able to use an iconic figure like Josephine Baker as reference for the video’s styling concepts and to be able to share that piece of history with viewers?

I think it was super important for Flo and Ebonie to present that to the world. For us, for me and my team, it was just the imagery part of it. I love so many classic people. I love so many old Hollywood figures. I love all that era. It’s like the things that make you want to get to know someone. It’s those iconic images that you see. You could tell me anything you’re looking for, and in my brain, I’ll be like, I know that this person wore something like this. Let’s find that photo because it’s emblazoned in your mind. When it’s a real cool creative and when people really hit the mark and do something that’s really glamorous, elegant, quality, top-tier fashion, you never forget it. So for me, [this video] was one of those moments. As iconic as Josephine was — because she had her de-clawed panthers, and all her diamonds and her revealing moments — I wanted to make sure that Flo’s ensemble were as impressive as Josephine’s. So that they’d be memorable and iconic and people would want to watch the video not even need to hear the song. They’d just be like, “Let’s see that skirt bounce again. Let me see her in that suit again. What was that?”

And how did that goal of making this video an iconic moment show up in your costuming choices?

To me, Flo’s such a fashion girl. She’s fashion forward, she has a great figure. She’s tall, she’s thin, she’s a beautiful girl with brown skin. There’s so many things about her that are just iconically beautiful. I just wanted to make sure that we were constantly highlighting them. Because I think so many times, especially as a Black person in America, people love to try to quantify and label us within the confines that they think we are acceptable of. I want to make sure that constantly, especially in wardrobe, we’re just hitting it out the box for her all the time. She’s Flosephine today, she’s Flo Milli tomorrow, and every time I just want it to be more impactful than the last time. So that people know that there are no limits upon her. You know she could be and she will be, and she will do anything, and she is gonna eat it up every time.

Flo Milli Roaring 20s
Brandon Almengo

So let’s talk the specific looks in the video. What was the inspiration for the white suit.

It was some runway inspiration that we had for the suit originally. But one of my assistants was a textile student at FIT. So her, Mary, and Kennie Doram, they sourced that textured white fabric in New York. And then once we found that we loved it, we already knew what kind of suit we wanted to have. We knew we wanted a jacket with tails. I knew that I wanted a dickey instead of a proper shirt. We know that we wanted a bowtie that was similar to the Tom Ford bowties. I have a lot of OGs in the game that are my mentors, so I know all the places. When I knew the suit I wanted to make, it wasn’t even a question in my mind, I’m like, let me call [Guy Wood] from 5001 Flavors, because they do some of the best custom suiting that everyone sees on the carpets. He has some of the best tailors in New York. So I called Guy. I was like, “Hey, I’m working with this new artist. I need this kind of suit.” He was like, “No problem. Give me the fabric. Tell me what you need. I got you.” So he made the entire suit, the cummerbund, the pants, the jacket, the bowtie, made it all for me custom, turned it around in a crazy amount of time.

How fast was he able to get those pieces made?

We prepped that video in seven days. So that suit I think he did for me in two to three days. I got the fabric on a Friday and the suit was done on a Tuesday kind of a thing. And they don’t work on the weekends. That’s the thing about using the OGs. Guy has been doing what he does since the ’90s. So when you call him like that, he’s like, “Yeah, of course. I got you. It’s nothing.” When you go to the people that are known for doing those iconic things, it seems it’s always quick and it can happen. It’s magical. But I spent a lot of time interning and assisting, so I have a lot of contacts and have a lot of relationships with people. We have a mutual respect from the work that I put in with people and with their peers. They saw me work and not sleep and hustle as an intern and an assistant. So the people that I can call everyone may not be able to call.

What about the tailoring for the suit? How did you get it so precise because it fit Flo perfectly.

I have amazing tailors in Atlanta that did all of the customization for that because we just went off measurements to make the suiting. My tailor in Atlanta is fire. She’s one of the best. She’s a master tailor and she did all of those alterations.

The quality of a look truly comes through in those little details. And it’s great to also be able to support Black-owned brands and Black designers and tailors that are doing such phenomenal work in the fashion space.

Exactly. I know that 5001 Flavors have made some of the dopest suits that we’ve seen on the red carpet, whether it’s a suit for Diddy or Nipsey. So it’s like, why would I go to [Dolce & Gabbana] or Tom Ford. I could give 5001 my money and I know they’re gonna have an equal quality. Just because it’s a house that people deem luxury doesn’t mean that’s where luxury stops. It’s greater than that. I’m always going to go to 5001 Flavors, even when it’s the Grammys for Flo. Even when it’s not a video. If it’s suiting that we need, why wouldn’t I go to 5001?

Flo Milli Roaring 20s
Brandon Almengo

Can you tell me about the crystal look Flo Milli wore in the shots on the swing?

That was our Josephine Baker look. There was the reference photo that we had. It was her with the chandelier earrings, and she had this crystal set on. She was a bit more provocative than what we had to be in this video. Obviously [Flo] is a little bit younger and her life is a little different. Mary actually made those earrings. She had a jeweler history as well, so she made the earrings. And then I was going through the Garmet District in New York looking for what I wanted. I knew what I wanted it to look like, but I hadn’t found anything. I built that top with one of my tailors in New York. The appliqué pieces that you see for her crystal bra, I built them on top of a bra. I actually flipped it because they did it wrong the first time. I’m a Virgo and it’s all about the details for me. I had them take it apart and put it back together because I’m that particular.

What about the crystal shorts you paired with the bra?

I had the panty made, and then my tailor in Atlanta had to remake it because it just wasn’t perfect. The little panty was actually a necklace. Mary had made me buy this necklace. She was like, “This necklace will be like the bra top.” Then I’m like, “I don’t know, it looks a little provocative.” But it was so expensive that I was like, “Where are we going to use this necklace, Mary Gigler?” When I went to fit Flo, I just had the vision to put the necklace on top of the short because it wasn’t hidden enough for me. When I put it on top of the short our tailor pinned it and it was perfect.

How did you pick the accessories for that Josephine Baker look?

A designer in New York created the Flo Milli crystallized gloves. My first assistant Habibat Toun Julmat, she stone the thigh-highs on set. We were on set probably like 12 to 13 hours. I had the girls working down. We were running back and forth. It was very high intensity.

There are so many days and hours of work that go into making a three-minute video many viewers may not even think about.

Literally so much. There was a headpiece that was supposed to go on that look. So we made the headband and blew up the headpiece because it wasn’t doing what I needed to do. I didn’t have time to finish it all, so we put the crystallized headband on her. And it just hit. Everything worked out. God is good. Everything is gonna work out the way that it’s supposed to work out. It doesn’t always seem like that in the moment, but it’s the reality.

Flo Milli Roaring 20s
Spike Jordan

What’s the story behind the bodysuit Flo Milli is wearing during the dance sequence in the video?  

Let me bring Mary Gigler back into it. I have this really, really dope guy in New York that I get all the appliqués from. Where I got the pieces for her crystal bra top is the same place that I got the crystals for that bodysuit with the feather skirt. As soon as I saw it, I was like, “Oh my God, I need that.” But the way that it comes, is just those stones. It’s just the appliqué. It doesn’t come on anything. I’m just walking in circles like, “What am I gonna put this on?” Because I need it to be on something. I love it. Once I love it, it’s over. Then I had to find a bodysuit, a very expensive bodysuit to put [the appliqué] on. I think it was snowing that day and we’re all rushing around the city in the snow. We go to get the bodysuit. Okay, cool. It’s perfect. Then we take it to the tailor and tell them to attach this, put this here, cut this out. We go through the whole thing.

Now how did the feather train become a part of the look?

Mary was like, “Jenna, we have to make this skirt from “Moulin Rouge!” they had this dope feather skirt.” And I’m like, “Okay, I’ve never seen “Moulin Rouge!” She’s going on and on about it. So we all stop and watch this scene with Nicole Kidman and this outfit on the swing in the skirt. The video’s director had wanted to do that swing moment. Originally it was supposed to be the swing with the feather skirt. We are going back and forth and I’m like, “Fine, this skirt.” I used to be a milliner and I used to make hats, so I used to find all about feathers and feather shades and all this stuff. I knew I wanted to get these feather boas, which are very expensive. And I was trying to skimp it a little bit because I’m like, “Oh my God, we still have to travel to Atlanta. We’ve gotta do all these things. I need all my assistants with me.” It was intense. And Mary is like, “We need more. There’s this gold mylar that’s like $400 dollars for the pack.” She’s like, “We need to twist the mylar in the feather boas.” We did all these things by ourselves. We built the whole skirt out, and then I had our master tailor, Diedra Reese-Toney in Atlanta, just attach it to the bodysuit. But we had already put all of the pieces of that skirt together.

So I’m sure the actual shoot day had to be extremely hectic with you having to get Flo into so many intricate looks.

It was all of us working through the night burning the midnight oil — me, and Mary Gigler and then my two assistants. They were so tired of us and all of these ideas. In addition to that, then we had the dancers’ costumes. We made those as well. Like that skirt that you see them in wasn’t a skirt. That was just this fringe appliqué that was on this netting. So we had to cut it out and make it a skirt. Then we had to attach it with this other band to these panties that we got them. And then when they got ready to be on camera, my assistant Habibat was freaking out because it’s like they were weighing down the panties. So they’re on side the stage stitching them into these skirts. Then we got these bras for them and attached the ostrich feathers to the top of the bras and to the bra straps. Then when they got on stage, their boobs are flying out. So we had to stitch them into them. It was a labor of love. When I tell you these girls were worn out by the end of this video. And it was cold and we were in a tent in Atlanta. They were so tired of me and these costumes.

Did you have to make any major alterations to Flo Milli’s looks while on set?

She wanted to detach the skirt from her bodysuit because she kept stepping into it. We had it so long so that it would be dramatic and would sweep the floor. But when she would do her dance moves, her heels kept getting caught in the bottom of the feather boas because we had bound them together so they had little pockets. So we literally had to stop the camera. It was me and my two main assistants, two other assistants we have in Atlanta, plus the tailor, plus her assistant. It was five of us literally cutting the bottom of these boas open and then binding them back up shorter and shorter to make sure that it could be high enough, because everybody wants her to wear this skirt now. So now we’re just ripping s— off the bottom, cutting it as fast as we can. And then I’m literally on the floor and laying, trying to twist it up to the right heel height like, “Kick. Kick. Kick.” So we could see if it’ll stick inside of the boa. We got it, but we were worn out.

I’m tired after just listening to all you had to do to get that one look just right. Was it just a one-day shoot?

It was a one-day shoot. We got there in the morning, set everything up for background, for dancers, and we hadn’t had a fitting. We only fit Flo. So we hadn’t had a fitting with anyone else. So it was a very intense day on set. Because normally what they do is hire a stylist and then they hire a stylist for the background. But again, like I said, I’m a Virgo. I’m a little particular. In addition to that, I have a background in costume design, so I was like, “I could do the whole thing. It’s not that deep.” Then when I got there I was like, “I’m sorry y’all. I’m sorry I did this to us.” But it looked great, so I was partially sorry.

Flo Milli Roaring 20s
Brandon Almengo

During the shoot day, was there any particular moment where you realized, “This it it. We got what we wanted. This video is about to pop.”

I would say definitely when we saw the white suit come to fruition. I would also say our moment where we knew it was a hit was seeing her on stage with the dancers in the look with the feather skirt. Seeing her on stage with the dancers — and them hitting it and her hitting it — was really that star quality where we were like, “Okay, well, this is about to be something else.”

What were you thinking once the video shoot wrapped after a whirlwind week to get everything prepped for it?

I was like, “Alright y’all, let’s get this stuff in the car and get her changed. It’s her birthday and she’s going to celebrate at the house with her friends. Then let’s get ready because her birthday party is tomorrow night and we’ve got to be ready to get her in her birthday outfit.”

The work doesn’t stop is what you’re telling me.

It doesn’t stop. I didn’t have a minute to think about [the shoot] because it was, “Okay, her birthday is here. We have all the looks. Does she have what she needs? Can we get her dressed for this and then get her through this night of her birthday so we can all pack this stuff up, get it organized and get back to New York. Because we don’t live in Atlanta.”

When Flo Milli first teased the “Roaring 20s” track with the single art in the white suit, what was your reaction to the buzz surrounding the look and the song. Because we didn’t even know what’s coming in full with the video, but you definitely did.

I was really proud of what we had all accomplished, and I was really excited that everybody was so excited about her being fully dressed and just seeing a beautiful girl and a fashion girl in that moment. When I first started working on Flo, I was like, “You’re gonna be a fashion girl.” To me, that was like point one of this journey to get her to be the optimal fashion girl in the game. So then the reaction to her in a suit with a bun, jewelry and just beautiful makeup, I was elated. I was so happy that’s how it was being received for the first sneak peek.

Flo Milli Roaring 20s
Spike Jordan / RCA

What was your first thought when you saw the finished video?

I loved it. I thought it was great. I was excited. I knew people were gonna love it. I’ve worked under a lot of legendary stylists and I’ve worked with a lot of legendary artists. So to see someone up at the level at which Flo is in her career, and to know where it’s going, knowing that she doesn’t even know what’s coming, it’s so exciting. We’re really just getting started and she’s so deserving. She’s such a lovely human being. It’s so nice to help create something for somebody that’s so deserving of all of the success, and all of the recognition and all of the praise that’s coming.

Did you face any limitations when it came to pulling off the overall vision of the video?

Flo is a new artist. So is her budget an exorbitant amount? Absolutely not. But it’s deeper than that. It was not about the money. I would rather spend every dollar of the budget making sure that this video was excellent so that she feels the support behind her is real. She’s a huge star. The money is gonna come. Sometimes we have to sacrifice today for tomorrow. And this project was a labor of love, and I wouldn’t do one thing differently, if I could go back. It’s the impact of the image for things like this that is priceless. It’s worth it for people to be able to see themselves, for kids to be able to be like, “Wow! I want to do that.” To do something different. Everything doesn’t have to be what we quantify what we’ve seen a female rapper be. I want to see it go higher and deeper and better. That’s the cool part about having mentors. My mentors want to see me take it somewhere else. They’re tired of the same stuff.

I love when you were saying how for you as a costume designer and stylist, you have those iconic styling references in your mind. I can pull a lot of those out too, where I remember this shoot that an artist did that I just loved. So what does it mean for you to now have this timeless styling moment in your own archive of work as a stylist?

Thank you, first of all, I really appreciate you saying that. It’s amazing. I don’t think that I’ve thought about it in that way, not even yet, because we move so quickly. But I was talking to Misa and she was saying that to me. When she was congratulating me, she was saying how to treat your archival things and how proud of me she was in this moment. I think speaking to her about the video and her giving me her feedback on it really was that moment for me that was like wow. This is, like you said, a part of my creative footprint that’s officially in the world in a different way for me as an artist. So it was really very special and a blessing. Just something that lets you know that you were really created for something that’s so much bigger than yourself. You do things because you want them to be excellent, because that’s how we were raised. And then for them to have an impact like this and be for the betterment of our people, it’s an unexplainable sense of pride and joy.

What does it mean for you as a Black stylist to be able to be a part of this young Black woman’s legacy as an entertainer?

When it’s a Black team behind a Black woman, it hits different. It’s time that we bring that back. And we’re not one-sided. Look at where Ruth Carter is today. Look at everything that Zerina Akers has been able to accomplish. Look at Misa, Eric Archibald and June Ambrose. There’s so many dope, talented Black stylists in the game that deserve their flowers and deserve opportunities. But we’re still not being allowed in a lot of these opportunities, as if we don’t have the talent. To me, these moments continue to kick that door open to let people know it’s deeper than hip hop.

Is there anything else you want to add about your work?

Black excellence is what I want to close it with. We’ve been that. I just want to make sure people know that we’re not going nowhere. We are only turning it up and we’re so multi-dimensional.

And we have good tailors.

Period. We are talented for real.